In an earlier post, I pointed out a few things about the Marvel Cinematic Universe (“MCU”) that I really enjoyed. I don’t think the MCU gets the credit it deserves. Sure, everyone likes the sound and visuals, but no one expects these films to win acting or directing Oscars. I’m not sure that’s fair, but I digress. Since that post, I’ve started watching the entire MCU in movie-chronological order (Captain America, Captain Marvel, Iron Man, etc.) and will continue through the entire MCU that’s on Disney+ or otherwise available to me. This probably excludes the Spider Man movies and the Incredible Hulk.
There’s been so much ink on these topics that it’s rather pointless to try to leave an impression. These will be short observations of the things that either I liked the most about them or suspect many people didn’t really notice. I’m going to avoid most of my major dislikes. There’s no sense in raining on anyone’s parade (including my own). In case you have the time, I found it fun watching these movies knowing where these characters wound up.
Spoiler alert, I guess?
In my last post, I spoke about the music. I love the music in this movie. I also loved Captain America’s team, the Howling Commandos. It’s a shame that, by design, they’ll get no more movies. I don’t think they could head up an entire (commercially successful) movie on their own, and their story with Captain America is done.
Like everyone else, I loved the Stan Lee tribute and his cameo.
I love that they made the Skrulls sympathetic. It was an interesting twist even for an MCU fan with no appreciation of the comic books, though I know that it was a twist for those that do. It also made for a good story, and I’m happy that the Skrulls are going to continue to play a role in the MCU (see Spider Man: Far from Home).
Some time ago, I read an article pointing out that the entire twist in Iron Man was given away in the opening scene. Knowing that the average American doesn’t speak Urdu, the scene showed Tony’s captors giving their demands in that language. As a result, many people overseas had the movie ruined for them. Duh.
Most interesting is how well this movie has aged despite being the first MCU film. The only thing tough to watch with this movie is the complete disregard for the laws of physics. But hey, you must suspend your disbelief in order to watch a superhero movie.
Iron Man 2
This is my least favorite MCU movie, but all its faults get a pass because it’s part of the larger story. I liked Howard speaking directly to Tony in the video. Tony’s realization that he was, in some sense, wrong about his father was handled well. I also loved Pepper and Tony’s “married couple” fight towards the end when Pepper learned Tony was dying. This despite Pepper Potts being the most annoying protagonist in the MCU.
When I was a kid, I wasn’t into comic books, but I was very much into mythology. The Norse legends were my favorite, so it shouldn’t surprise you to know that Thor is my favorite Marvel character. Origin stories are always tough, but I still love this movie. Maybe it’s my bias, but with Marvel going cosmic, perhaps this is the second most important movie in the first couple phases (next to Iron Man). Though Thor should be a redhead (damn it!), I thought the character was well-treated. At the risk of getting ahead of myself, his development through all three solo movies and the Avengers movies led him from a spoiled brat to the strongest Avenger, and with Ragnarök he finally became the near-invincible, dim-witted character I know from mythology (more on that later). It had to start somewhere, and this was a good start. A lot of this comes from Chris Hemsworth’s performance, which was stellar throughout. I hope he plays Thor forever.
And is there a better villain than Tom Hiddleston’s Loki? I also like the fact that Loki was a frost giant, which is consistent with his character in mythology. I did find it weird that his father was Laufey. In mythology, his mother was Laufey, and his father was Farbauti (though there are sources that don’t attach Loki to either).
Moving onto the movie itself, I do have a couple of issues. First, it seemed odd that Odin was ready to hand over the throne to such a dipshit, but it did make Thor’s banishment more profound. Second, why didn’t Heimdall get punished for helping Thor go to Jotunheim? Third: “Oh. My. God.” Worst. MCU. Line. Ever. Fourth: “Son of Cole.” Favorite. MCU. Line. Ever.
As for the music, it was appropriately majestic considering that the movie was dealing with royalty.
This was also an important movie in the MCU, as it was the first ensemble movie. Thor wasn’t nearly as powerful as he should have been, but he needed to be weak enough so that he didn’t trivialize the plot.
Shawarma. I know it has a lot of competition, but it remains my favorite end-credits scene in any movie.
And then there’s this guy, the biggest hero in the movie without a superpower to speak of.
One criticism: As soon as the nuke hit the mother ship, all the Chitauri dropped dead, as did all the “whale ships.” The entire enemy force just collapsed. I know this dead horse has been soundly beaten, but I have different questions. Why was there still a rush to shut the portal? The threat was gone. Why couldn’t they give Stark as much time as he needed to fall back to Earth? Why couldn’t Thor fly through the portal, attempt to find Stark, and bring him back? The answer, of course, is “drama.”
That’s it for now. When I have some time, I’ll be moving on to Phase 2, which includes (in order) Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: the Winter Soldier (my favorite MCU film; expect a long discussion), both Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Ant-Man. GotG2 isn’t actually Phase 2, but I’m watching these using in-movie chronology, so watching in phases isn’t quite going to work.